Restaurants in East of Koh Phangan

THONG NAI PAN NOI

Bars

Beach Club Bar
Rasta Baby

Cafes

Oleang Cafe
Pan Cafe

Thai Food

Somtam Restaurant
Star Hut Restaurant
Thong Tapan Resort Restaurant
Mango
Issan Restaurant
Again & Again
Baan Muay Thai
Jip Shop

International Food

Beach Love Restaurant
Better Than Sex
Luna Lounge
Chantara Restaurant at Santhiya Resort
Stone Beach Restaurant at Panviman Resort
The Beach Club Restaurant at Buri Rasa Resort
Bistro at Rasananda Resort

Again and Again
Baan Muay Thai
Beach Club Bar
Better than Sex
Jip Shop
Chantara Restaurant
Rasananda Bistro
Issan Restaurant
Luna Lounge
Beach Love Restaurant
Mango Restaurant
Oleang Cafe
Pan Cafe
Rasta Baby
Somtam Restaurant
Thong Tapan Restaurant
Stone Beaach Restaurant

THONG NAI PAN YAI

Bars

Nu Bar
Yai Bar
Indian Bar & Indian House

Cafes

Su’s Cafe and Bakery

Thai Food

Baan Panburi Resort Restaurant
Central Cottage Resort Restaurant
Longtail Resort Restaurant

International Food

Wisit Burgers

Indian Food

Ash Restaurant at Havana Resort

Ash
Longtail Resort Restaurant
Baan Panburi Restaurant
Central Cottage
Su Cafe and Bakery
Yai Bar
Wisit Burgers

THAN SADET

Thai Food

Mai Pen Rai Bungalows
Seaview Than Sadet Restaurant
Plaa Than Sadet

Mai Pan Rai
Seaview Restaurant
Plaa Than Sadet

HAAD TIEN

Bars

Guy’s Bar
Thai Food
Spice
Vegetarian
The Sanctuary Resort

Guy’s Bar
Spice
The Sanctuary

 

HAAD YUAN

Thai Food

Bamboo Hut
Haad Yuan Restaurant

International Food

Palms Restaurant at the Pariya Resort

Haad Yuan Restaurant
Palms Restaurant
Bamboo Hut

East Coast Beaches

The east cost of Koh Phangan is the stuff of dreams. It is a dramatic coastline dominated by a spine of mountains that run up the coast and that break at points to create bays holding magnificent white sand beaches many of which are rarely visited. This area of the island is stunningly beautiful and is quickly developing a reputation for luxury accommodation and pristine natural surroundings. With the construction of Koh Phangan Airport at Than Prapad in the east, this part of Koh Phangan is due to become the new hub for luxury travel in the Samui Archipelago. (The airport never got built. It was a bit of a scandal1)

Unlike the west coast of Koh Phangan, the east doesn’t have any off-shore coral reefs. All the beaches on the east coast are ideal for swimming but offer little for those wanting to do snorkeling. There are a lot of beaches on the east coast but most of them are quite small.

Access to most of the beaches in this region is limited. Only a few taxi drivers will attempt the treacherous roads to these beaches (other than Thong Nai Pan). The Thong Nai Pan Express is a small ferry that runs up and down the coast twice a day. It starts at Thong Nai Pan at 19am and does request stops along the east coast before getting to Haad Rin and heading off to Maenam in Koh Samui. The reverse journey leaves Koh Samui at 12 pm. The ferry doesn’t run between October and January.

Thong Nai Pan

Thong Nai Pan is the largest bay on the east coast. It is a stunning bay surrounded by forested slopes with headlands of giant granite boulders. Until a few years ago Thong Nai Pan was reached via the worst road on the island. Now the road is one of the best on the island and forms the main point of access for most of the east coast beaches.

There are actually three beaches in the Thong Nai Pan. To the south is the larger Thong Nai Pan Yai and to the north is Thong Nai Pan Noi and another small beach next to it that is commonly called ‘Santhiya beach’ although it is open to everyone to visit.

Thong Nai Pan Yai

Thong Nai Pan Yai holds the main village of the area. This consists of a wide selection of bars, restaurants, shops, resorts and travel agents along a main road as well as businesses scattered over the land between the main road and the beach.

It is a wide beach that has fine white sand that gently slopes down to the sea. It is a good beach for swimming as there aren’t any corals in the sea. There is however, a low rock shelf at the southern end of the beach that can be seen during the lower tidal months.

Thong Nai Pan Yai beach has plenty of beachfront facilities. Most of the resorts are beachfront and most of these have sea view restaurants. At the northern end of the beach is a small temple. Dreamland Resort, Starlight Resort and Central Cottage have swimming pools near the beach.

Thong Nai Pan Yai is rated by us as the third best beach in Koh Phangan. It combines stunning natural scenery with a wide range of accommodation, bars and restaurants. It attracts both families and backpackers.

Thong Nai Pan Noi

Ask anybody where to find a 5 star hotel in Koh Phangan and they will reply ‘Thong Nai Pan Noi’. There are 4 luxury resorts in Thong Nai Pan Noi. They are Rasananda, Santhiya, Panviman and Buri Rasa. In terms of comfort, style and facilities these hotels represent the best accommodation on Koh Phangan.

Thong Nai Pan Noi is considered by many to be the best beach in Koh Phangan. It is fine white sand and is fringed with palms. The sea is ideal for swimming all year round. Scattered around the area are huge granite boulders one of which has the initials of King Rama V. Behind the beach are imposing forested slopes. Facing the other way there is the open ocean as well as the opposite beach, Thong Nai Pan Yai.

Despite the development of Thong Nai Pan Noi it is still a beach set in a pristine natural setting. You can see butterflies sporting in the surf and birds of prey circling in the thermals overhead. As you walk around there are plenty of landscaped areas to enjoy spotting tropical flowers.

The village behind the beach has a collection of bars, restaurants, shops and massage places. The small street has a laid-back Bohemian feel that has helped to establish Thong Nai Pan Noi as a firm favourite with visitors over the years.

Than Sadet

Moving south from Thong Nai Pan Yai, the next beach is Haad Sadet, also known as Than Sadet. This is a small beach next to a national park. It is accessed via a very rough road that is being upgraded, or via longtail boat taxi.

The beach is famous for its series of waterfalls that run over 4km. These waterfalls have been visited by three kings of Thailand.

The beach at Than Sadet is a hidden gem. It is great for swimming and relaxing. All the accommodation here is fairly basic and the resorts get their power from generators. This is a beach tucked away from the world, and attracts those wanting a peaceful and non-commercial beach to enjoy.

Haad Thong Reng

Next to Than Sadet beach is Haad Thong Reng. It is reached via a short walk over a rocky headland. It is a very small beach with granite boulders scattered over the beach and in the sea. Those lucky few hanging out on this beach enjoy complete tranquility. There are a few basic bungalows available for rent at Thong Reng Resort.

Haad Nam Tok

Haad Nam Tok is the next beach south from Haad Thong Reng. The name of the beach translates as ‘waterfall beach’ because there is a small waterfall near the beach.

Haad Nam Tok is another perfect beach and at present uninhabited. Someone has built a bar on the beach and it is sometimes used for parties, but otherwise there aren’t any buildings on the beach. It is possible to camp on the beach, but you would have to bring everything with you.

You can get to Haad Nam Tok by longtail taxi boat. There is a road that branches off the main Baan Tai to Thong Nai Pan Road. It is a rough dirt track that goes up and down difficult terrain. You cannot drive all the way to the beach. The last 20 minutes of the journey to Haad Nam Tok is on foot and is down a steep mountain path.

Haad Nam Tok is rarely visited and great for those looking to explore off-the-beaten-track.

UPDATE: From blogger comments I note that a few travellers have mentioned that the rubbish is piling up on Haad Nam Tok Beach.

Haad Yang

Haad Yang is reached by a footpath from the bigger Haad Yao to the south. It is a small and deserted beach in a wide bay flanked by rocks with palm trees behind. This is another beautiful beach on the east coast that is great for swimming.

Haad Yao East

Haad Yao East is overshadowed by the famous Haad Yao on the west coast. Unlike Haad Yao West, Haad Yao is a small beach that doesn’t have a coral reef off-shore.

This beach has fine white sand and good swimming all year round. There is only one resort at Haad Yao East. It has basic bungalows. It seems like there is only ever a handful of backpackers staying at Haad Yao East at any one time.

The footpath that starts at Haad Rin and that goes north through the jungle and then follows the coast goes past Haad Yao East. It is 8 km from Haad Rin to Haad Yao East. You can get the Thong Nai Pan Express to drop you at this beach or get a longtail taxi. A few drivers might attempt the dirt road to this beach.

If you ever fancied owning your own tropical paradise rumor has it that half the beach is up for lease.

Haad Wai Nam

Haad Wai Nam is another tucked away and hard-to-get beach. It is in a beautiful small bay. The sand here is slight rougher than other beaches on the east coast.

Haad Whynam Restaurant and Bungalows is the only business on the beach. They have comfortable wooden bungalows on a hill behind the beach. As with the other east coast beaches, the power comes from generators.

It is a picturesque place and an ideal spot to escape from the world. It is a beach with very little media exposure so few people venture to this beach.

Haad Thian

Haad Thian is one of the longest east coast beaches. It is a wonderful beach with fine white sand and a good range of accommodation.

There is more going on in Haad Thian than the other smaller east coast beaches such as Haad Thong Reng and Haad Wai Nam.

The Sanctuary is a yoga / New Age / detox center on the beach with basic bungalows for those doing courses. This causes a split in the beach visitors between those interested in colonic irrigation and those who just want to lie in the sun and drink cold beer in the evening.

Again the electricity is supplied by generator; and again the only way to Haad Thian is via a footpath from Haad Rin or a longtail boat. The Thong Nai Pan express stops at Haad Thian bay but often a smaller boat goes out to ferry passengers on and off the beach.

Haad Yuan

Haad Yuan is 150 meters long. It is another of the longer eastern beaches. Haad Yuan has fine white sand and is fringed by palms leaning towards the sea.

There is a good range of rooms available. The stand out place is Centara Pariya Resort. This resort has round huts, a swimming pool and a spa. The power for all the resorts is from generators that are usually turned off either at night or for a few hours during the day.

There isn’t much in the way of shops at Haad Yuan but you can find plenty of places to eat and drink. It is a wonderful beach and feels a little bit less remote and less basic than most of the other smaller eastern beaches.

Haad Yuan is a 5 km walk through the jungle from Haad Rin. The alternative is to catch a longtail taxi or the Thong Nai Pan Express to the beach.

To find more information check out this Koh Phangan East Coast blog.

Where is the best place to stay on Koh Phangan

The Island of Koh Phangan has a diverse range of accommodation options and small towns and villages each with their own character. Some will appeal to certain types of visitor more than others. It can be difficult to choose where to stay as the guides will tend to tell you that everywhere is great, which in their own way they are, but this is of little help in choosing where to stay.

Here is our guide to choosing the beach location which will suit you best.

1. Luxury in Koh Phangan

Thong Nai Pan Noi

Thong Nai Pan Noi Beach

If you are looking for a luxury break in Koh Phangan then you should head to the small village of Thong Nai Pan Noi in the North East of the island.

Thong Nai Pan Noi has one of the best beaches on Koh Phangan. It’s about 800 meters long with clean white powder sand which slopes gently into the water. Thong Nai Pan Noi Beach is perfect for swimming from December through to September. The beach is within a sheltered bay and the sea is perfectly calm most days. It’s popular with families as children can play safely in the water.
Better Than Sex
Better Than Sex Restaurant and Lounge
Luna Lounge
Luna Lounge

Thong Nai Pan Noi has a small laid-back village with a good range of independent restaurants. The best two of these are Luna Lounge and Better than Sex at the edge of the village. Both restaurants serve good quality Thai, European and fusion cooking. The food at Better that Sex is slightly better than Luna Lounge, with some unusual Burmese dishes, such as curry with sour mango, and good Italian pasta and pizzas. Also worth mentioning are Jip Shop which serves tasty Thai food at mid-range prices, and Baan Muay Thai which serves authentic Thai food at very cheap prices – try the ‘Kanaa Moo Grop’ (Chinese cabbage fried with crispy pork in light oyster sauce) and ‘Gai Pad Prio Wan’ (Thai style sweet and sour chicken).

Visitors to Thong Nai Pan Noi have no fewer than 4 luxury resorts to choose from. If you bear in mind there are only a total of 6 luxury resorts on the whole island you can understand why we describe Thong Nai Pan Noi as THE luxury destination in Koh Phangan.

Buri Rasa
Buri Rasa from 2,900 THB per night

BOOK BURI RASA RESORT

Buri Rasa is Thong Nai Pan Noi’s newest resort which opened for business in 2012. The style of this new resort is something of a departure from the design of typical luxury resorts in Thailand. The rooms are a bit smaller, and the design is more modern with pastel colours rather than dark heavy wood tones. You get a lot for your money at Buri Rasa with room prices approximately half that of the other luxury resorts in Thong Nai Pan Noi. The beachfront location is excellent as is the hotel restaurant and bar, which are similarly good value for money. The rooms are very comfortable and guests benefit from the newness of the fittings and furnishings. The ground floor rooms feature very nice terraces with chairs and tables leading onto either the garden or the beach. Overall a reliable and good value choice, particularly for couples.
Panviman
Panviman Resort and Spa from 2,600 THB per night

BOOK PANVIMAN RESORT

Panviman is one of the first hotels on Koh Phangan having opened way back in 1987. It has changed a lot since then with a lot of new rooms and facilities having been added. The design style of the resort can best be described as ‘eclectic’ which is a reflection of its organic development over the last 25 years. The newest rooms, which are luxury individual cottages, are the best. The Presidential Suite built right on the rocks at the water’s edge on the headland is spectacular. The sliding glass doors open onto a private plunge pool and terrace right on the shoreline. The hotel rooms are nicely appointed and we have enjoyed staying there on numerous occasions. However, they are packed closely together and you feel as though you lack privacy on your balcony when the hotel is full. The dining options at Panviman are good. There is a cliff side restaurant where they serve a sumptuous buffet breakfast, and a beach restaurant with a BBQ and excellent Thai menu – in our opinion the best Thai food on the island.

Rasa Nan Da
Rasananda from 7,762 THB per night

BOOK ANANTARA RASANANDA

Koh Phangan’s most luxurious and most expensive hotel. The rooms range from hotel style to private beachfront bungalows where your terrace leads onto the sand. Built in 2008, Rasananda was a ground breaking development in the island’s hotel scene, and rivals the established resorts on Koh Samui and Phuket. It was Rasananda that established Thong Nai Pan Noi as a destination in the itinerary of the international ‘jet-set’. Several celebrities such as Jordan (Katie Price) have stayed at Rasananda.

The location and the construction of this resort is great, however, we feel that it is slightly let down by the standard of the catering. By comparison with the rest of the island its international menu is good, however, by comparison with resorts in the Maldives or the Caribbean it still has some way to go. Our feeling is that they would have been better off doing simple things well, rather than attempting a more complicated menu and failing to hit the mark. The supply chain of products in Southern Thailand makes creating a truly international menu very difficult. This said, there are so many restaurants within a short walking distance; the quality of the resort restaurant is not a deciding factor when you make a booking decision in Thong Nai Pan Noi.

UPDATE: Rasananda is currently offering Japanese cuisine. This appears to be more of a successful departure.
Santhiya
Santhiya Resort and Spa from 4,700 THB

BOOK SANTHIYA RESORT

Santhiya is a self-contained resort with the Island’s largest swimming pool, complete with faux waterfall. If you have children they will happily entertain themselves for the whole holiday in the pool whilst you relax with a drink at the poolside restaurant and bar enjoying the panoramic sea views. The accommodation is split between hotel blocks and individual cottages, some with private pools. The resort is a truly magnificent construction, made largely in wood along the design style of the Northern Thai Lanna culture. The reception and restaurant are masterpieces of intricate wood carving, all designed by the owner who is an architect.

The decision to use this much wood works well in the communal areas but has proved a poor one when it comes to the older cottages, which alas are looking slightly tired now. It was built in 2004 and the original rooms are in need of some modernisation. How much you enjoy your stay may well depend on which rooms you get.

This is the most successful hotel on the Island with a constant stream of visitors from all over the world (particularly Asian countries) on package tours. The vast majority of the visitors enjoy their stay and tend to remain within the confines of the resort for the whole time they come to Thong Nai Pan Noi. This is partly because the catering is good, and partly because it is slightly difficult to reach the main beach and village from the resort. If you want to easily access the local restaurants, as opposed to having a resort based holiday, you might be slightly better off staying at one of the other hotels.

2. Parties in Koh Phangan

Half Moon Party

Half Moon Party

Most of the people who come to Koh Phangan come for the parties. If you fall into this category you are best off staying in the Ban Tai area, which is the beach running northwards from the main port town Thong Sala. Many people immediately opt for staying in Haad Rin which is the location of the Full Moon Party, however, you are much better off staying in the Ban Tai area for three main reasons. Firstly, aside from the Full Moon Party, Ban Tai is where most of the action is. The Ban Tai area is close to the Half Moon Party, Jungle Experience, Loi Lay party, Ban Sabai after party, Black Moon, Sramanora Waterfall Party, MerKa Ba and Ku Club. There is something going on most nights throughout the year. Secondly, by staying in Ban Tai you can access a really good range of restaurants and bars. The restaurant options include the excellent Fisherman’s Restaurant, fast food at the Food Factory, or Muu Gra Tat, a type of hotpot cooked at your table, at Hell’s Kitchen. Lastly, and most importantly Ban Tai is much more relaxed than Haad Rin. The constant influx of often badly behaved tourists to Haad Rin has given the locals something of a hard edge.

There are lots of affordable accommodation choices in Ban Tai, many with a pleasant beach side location. Depending on your budget, you might consider one of the following three resorts:
The Beach Village
Beach Village from 250 THB per night
If you are on a budget, or don’t care too much about where you stay because you haven’t come to Koh Phangan to sleep, The Beach Village is an excellent choice. They have a range of dormitories beds and small inexpensive bungalows. They also have a swimming pool, a bar and restaurant, and host the popular Rhythm and Sands party. This is a good choice if you are on your own and you want to meet people.

Milky Bay
Milky Bay from 890 THB per night

BOOK MILKY BAY RESORT

This is a very nice bungalow resort in peaceful garden setting. It’s a cut above the other Ban Tai bungalows resorts with 6 different room choices. All the rooms have air-con and satellite TV making them great places to recover from the night before. There is a pool, restaurant and gym, where they teach Muay Thai, on-site. Milky Bay is a professionally run resort from the same people behind Lime N Soda and the Food Factory.

3. Families in Koh Phangan

Haad Salad

Haad Salad

Haad Salad is a small tucked away bay. Pirates used to hide here, hence the name which means Pirate Bay. It’s a bit away from the parties and crowds that come to Koh Phangan. Everything tends to shut down (except the Reggae Bar on the edge of the village) at about 9 pm. The peace and quiet, in combination with the value for money family friendly resorts, makes this an ideal place for a family holiday.

There are things to do and see a short taxi journey away. There is great snorkelling in Mae Haad, which is the next beach. About 3 km to the North is Chaloklum where there is a range of activities such elephant trekking, archery and wake boarding. To the south is Haad Yao which is a great swimming beach with a lively town.
Salad Beach Resort
Salad Beach Resort from 1,200 THB per night

BOOK SALAD BEACH RESORT

Salad Beach Resort is the most popular resort for families on the West Coast. It’s value for money, it’s friendly, and the facilities are a good standard. It’s busy all year round and you should book in advance. There are lots of things in the hotel grounds: beach front restaurant, pool, spa, supermarket, and motorbike rental shop. The resort is fairly large with 53 rooms, about half bungalows and half hotel rooms. All the rooms have air-con and satellite TV. The hotel rooms all have balconies, and the bungalow have verandas where you can sit outside. The accommodation is set within a lovely landscaped garden with water features.
Haadlad Prestige Resort and Spa
Haadlad Prestige Resort and Spa from 4,200 THB per night

Haadlad Prestige Resort and Spa is one step up in luxury from Salad Beach Resort and two steps up in price. The two hotels are next door to each other. The rooms and bungalows are better: bigger and better furnished. There are two restaurants, the main restaurant and the beachside BBQ terrace. The resort runs a very popular Thai cookery course with the jovial Chef Tummy. There is also a large beachfront swimming pool, which is filled with saltwater – good to know if you are allergic to the chemical used to clean the water in the pool.

4. Peace and Quiet in Koh Phangan

Mae Haad

Mae Haad Beach

There are plenty of deserted beaches in Koh Phangan. However, many of these are difficult to get to and have too few facilities for most visitors. Of the beaches you can get to fairly easily, and have enough restaurants, telecoms connectivity and shops to satisfy most visitor’s basic needs, Mae Haad beach is probably the most peaceful.

Mae Haad is a sleepy little village with a handful of restaurants, bars and resorts. There are also a couple of independent shops including Om Bakery. It tends to only get busy during the late morning and afternoons with people who come here for the snorkelling, which is the best on Koh Phangan. There is a coral reef about 25 metres from the shore line with plenty of fish – the area is a protected national park. Snorkels and flippers can be rented by the hour from Island View Cabana. As well as snorkelling, and chilling out on the perfect beach, there is also a waterfall in the jungle about a 10 minute walk from the beach.

In Mae Haad you have two good accommodation options:
Island View Cabana
Island View Cabana from 300 THB per night
Island View Cabana has classic Thai style wooden beach bungalows right on the beach. There aren’t too many of these left now on Koh Phangan as the larger resorts have gone ‘up market’. There are 4 grades of bungalow, some have air-con and fridges, others fans. It is not the luxurious rooms or facilities which you come here for, it’s the beach front location. If you are after a beach and inexpensive days chilling on a great beach, you can’t go wrong with booking at this resort.
Mae Haad Bay Resort
Mae Haad Bay Resort from 2,300 THB per night

BOOK MAE HAAD BAY RESORT

Mae Haad Bay Resort is a decent 3 star resort. The rooms feel luxurious. There are 7 room types, the smallest is a generous 45 sqm. Bear in mind that the average room size in a smart Bangkok hotel is 32sqm. The largest room is the massive 129 sqm Sunset Beachfront Suite Room. The centre piece of the hotel is the impressive swimming pool and adjacent decking area. All the rooms look onto the pool area. This great hotel has an open air restaurant & BBQ, a lobby lounge and a poolside bar. It’s close, but not right on, the main Mae Haad beach. The walk though is less than 1 minute around the side of the resort.

5. Beach Lovers in Koh Phangan

Bottle Beach

Bottle Beach

If the most important thing for you is the quality of the beach, then we recommend Bottle Beach (‘Haad Khuat’ in Thai) in the North East of Koh Phangan.

Bottle Beach used to be a hippy enclave with no electricity and very basic bungalows. It was, and still is, a little bit difficult to reach. The road to Bottle Beach starts near Thong Nai Pan Noi and it’s rough going in places. The road journey to Bottle Beach requires a 4×4 car or a white knuckle ride on a motorbike (you can do it on a moped but we don’t recommend it). The other way of getting to Bottle beach is by long tail boat from Thong Nai Pan or Chaloklum. There isn’t much there, a few bars and restaurants and no real night life. The beach though is fantastic and very good for swimming in the sea. There is a certain charm to Bottle Beach and it’s a good place to chill out for a few days.

Bottle Beach has only four resorts. The best two are:
Haad Khuat Resort
Haad Khuat Resort from 400 THB per night

BOOK HAAD KHUAT RESORT

Haad Khuat Resort has 15 hotel rooms, which are quite good, and 13 bungalows which are very basic. The hotels rooms are probably the best rooms on the beach, and the restaurant here does the best food.
Bottle Beach 1 Resort
Bottle Beach Resort 1 from 700 THB per night

BOOK BOTTLE BEACH 1 RESORT

This a bigger resort with 6 different room types. The cheapest, the standard fan bungalows, have the best location the beach. The quality of the room though goes up with the deluxe bungalows. This family run resort has lots of character. The service here works on ‘island time’. This is a relaxed place and a few delays with the orders doesn’t seem to bother the clientele much.

6. Foodies in Koh Phangan

Phantip Market

Panthip Market

The best food is to be found in, and around, the main town Thong Sala. For authentic Thai food your best bet is Phantip Market in the centre of Thong Sala. From around 4 pm there are around 40 market stalls selling a wide selection of Thai dishes for the cheapest prices on Koh Phangan. If you are after a taste of Southern Thai cuisine try one of the rice and curry shops. There are some unique southern dishes such as Gaeng Som (yellow curry), Khua Kling (very spicy dry mince pork curry) and Gaeng Sataw (spicy thick curry with a bean similar to a peeled broad bean).

For more refined dining you should head along the Ban Tai Road towards Haad Rin and then towards the Fisherman’s Restaurant and Fish at Thips both close to Ban Tai Pier. For European food try John’s Bistro or Santorini both in the centre of Thong Sala. There is also a very good, and relatively inexpensive, Mexican Restaurant called Ando Loco just on the outskirts of Thong Sala. The owner’s giant Margaritas are legendary and his home grown chilli gives the food that authentic Tex-Mex taste.

The list of really good restaurants in this area goes on and on. There are some small ‘treasures’ to be found if you search around. One particularly good restaurant is just around the corner from Home Mart. Coming from Ban Tai turn right immediately after Home Mart and immediately on your left you will see a small restaurant on your left. There is no English menu, but probably the best Issan food on the Island. Ask for ‘Laab Moo’, ‘Namtok Moo’, ‘Gai Yang’ and ‘Khao Nio’ for a taste of authentic Issan food. You won’t be disappointed, but be warned this food is very spicy and they don’t tone it down for the tourists!

There are lots of places to stay in Thong Sala. These are our two recommendations, one is a bungalow resort, the other a hotel.
Lime N Soda
Lime N Soda from 560 THB per night

BOOK LIME N SODA RESORT

Lime N Soda is the perfect kind of beach bungalow resort. Cheap and well maintained with a swimming pool and affordable on-site restaurant. The bungalows are fairly basic but good value for money. This place gets very busy around Full Moon but is a really pleasant and laid back place to stay for the rest of the month. It’s an easy walk into Thong Sala or to Ban Tai Village where there is some good nightlife.

Baan Busaba
Baan Busaba from 950 THB per night
Baan Busaba is the kind of well-run and nicely furnished mid-range hotel you find all over mainland Thailand, but not unfortunately in Koh Phangan where most of the accommodation is either bungalows for party goers or more upmarket accommodation for families. You might not think about staying away from the beach during a trip to Southern Thailand, however, we say give this hotel a go. It’s a slice of metropolitan comfort with a good range of satellite TV channels and a comfy bed. The only downside of this hotel is that it’s about a 1 km into the centre of Thong Sala and a bit further to Ban Tai. If you ride a moped then it’s a very simple straight road into town and onto Ban Tai. If riding mopeds is not your style then you can normally find a motorbike taxi or songthaew (pick-up truck taxi) who will take you the short drive back to the hotel at night.

7. Detox in Koh Phangan

Agama Yoga

Yoga in Koh Phangan

Whilst Koh Phangan is best known for its party scene, and more recently its emerging luxury tourism market, it has a long history of yoga, meditation and alternative therapies. Meditation and fasting is an important part of the Thai Buddhist culture. For a traditional Thai Buddhist ‘spiritual detox’ go to Wat Khao Tam in Ban Tai. For a cleansing herbal steam bath try Wat Po temple also in the Ban Tai area in the South of Koh Phangan.

For a yoga and detox you are best off heading to the west coast of the island around Sri Thanu and Haad Yao. Agama Yoga in Sri Thanu is the number 1 yoga centre on Koh Phangan. There is also the Yoga Retreat on the main road from Haad Yao to Chaloklum. There are also some places on the west of the island where you can learn Thai massage. C&M Study Centre in Sri Thanu runs massage courses as well as Thai language and cooking classes. You might also want to visit Chantima Massage and Holistic Massage Training centre where they offer an impressive range of beauty treatments and 5 day Thai massage courses. Our sources tell us that the courses are professionally run and the centre is kept very clean.

UPDATE: Agama was embroiled in controversy a few years ago when its head swami was accused of sexual misconduct. He fled the island and the authorities.
Ananda Wellness Resort
Ananda Wellness packages from 4,000 THB
Ananda Wellness is a hotel where they run detox programmes combining fasting, herbal detox, colonics, massage, yoga classes and steam sauna. There are courses for different periods of time: 3.5, 7.5 and 11 days. The accommodation is either bungalows or hotel rooms. They are adequate but basic. In addition to the facilities related to the treatments and courses, they have a salt water swimming pool and restaurant called ‘Love Kitchen’ which serves vegetarian and vegan food, as well as a full Thai menu.

10 Best Beaches

Koh Phangan has 34 beaches. Some are very remote, such as the beautiful Haad Nam Tok which you have to walk to, other such as Ban Tai and Wok Tum are right next to the main town. Some are good for swimming, others are not. However, they all have something to offer. The trick is to pick the one which suits you.

People who know Koh Phangan will all have their own opinion. Most often the one they love the best is the first one they ever visited, and this is where they go back to every time they make it to Koh Phangan. However, for the benefit of the ‘newbie’ we have tried to rank the most accessible of the beaches with four simple metrics rated 0 to 5 (with 5 being the best):

Swimming: how safe, pleasant and easy it is to swim in the sea?
Local Facilities: The range of shops, bars and restaurants bordering the beach
Natural beauty: How beautiful is it when you look back from shoreline?
Tranquility: How peaceful is it? This is about the feel of the beach. How idyllic is the experience of the beach.

We do not claim that one beach is necessarily better than another; however, we hope that our guide helps you to choose the beach that’s best for you – that’s what counts!

#1 Thong Nai Pan Noi

Thong Nai Pan Noi

Location: North East

Swimming: 5 out of 5
Local Facilities: 2 out of 5
Natural Beauty: 5 out of 5
Tranquility: 4 out of 5

Total Score: 16 out of 20

Thong Nai Pan Noi is now considered as the ‘Riviera’ of Koh Phangan. It’s a perfect white sand beach surrounded by steep forested mountain slopes forming a natural amphitheatre. 10 years ago there were only a few bungalow resorts in Thong Nai Pan Noi, now it home to 4 of the best luxury resorts on the Island. The three 5 Star resorts (Rasananda, Santhiya and Panviman) rank alongside the best luxury resorts in more established destinations.

What people really like about Thong Nai Pan Noi is the small village with its independent bar and restaurant scene. Thong Nai Pan Noi used to be a hippy style enclave for travellers in the know and it’s retained some of that Bohemian feel.

This is a really quiet and peaceful destination very suitable for families and older couples. There is enough nightlife to entertain you after dinner, if that’s your thing, but not enough to keep you awake at night. The hotels may be relatively expensive, but if you have the money or you want to enjoy a really special holiday (it is really popular for honeymooners), then this is definitely the place for you.

Luxury Hotel: Santhiya Resort and Spa from 4,000 THB
Mid-Range Hotel: Phuwadee Resort and Spa from 650 THB
Budget Hotel: Sandee Bungalows from 400 THB

#2 Mae Haad

Mae Haad

Location: North West

Swimming: 5 out of 5
Local Facilities: 2 out of 5
Natural Beauty: 4 out of 5
Tranquility: 4 out of 5

Total Score: 15 out of 20

This beach is so beautiful and so quiet it will be many people’s idea of a dream tropical beach destination. This is a laid back destination with a low density of resorts and restaurants spread across a flat grassy square of land stretching a 1km back from the beach. The village is charming and the businesses located there are all independently run. Mostly its Thai food available at low prices, but there are a few passable Western dishes available. There is no real bar culture here, although you can enjoy late night drinks at the beach front resort restaurants. Moreover, the nightlife of Haad Yao is only a few minutes away by taxi or motorbike.

Mae Haad beach is a great place to stay if you like snorkeling. There is small coral reef about 20 metres from the powder fine white sand beach. You can see lots of fish and sea urchins amongst the multi-coloured corals. If you keep an eye out toward the deeper ocean you can see giant shoals of fish including magnificent tiger stripped barracuda. The water around Mae Haad beach and the nearby Koh Ma island is a protected national park and is teeming with sea life. If you still have the energy left after all that swimming there is an impressive waterfall around 2km back from the beach. Head out of the village on the main road and there are signposts pointing toward the right.

For a luxury stay you can book the 4 Star Mae Haad Resort. This resort has only recently opened and the prices are low for a resort of this quality. Like many new hotels they charge cheap prices until they establish themselves. For classic ‘old school’ beach bungalows try Island View Cabana. There aren’t many place left in Thailand where you can find a $10 beach bungalow – this is one of them.

Mid-Range Hotel: Mae Haad Resort from 2,800 THB
Budget Hotel: Island View Cabana from 300 THB

#3 Thong Nai Pan Yai

Thong Nai Pan Yai

Location: North East

Swimming: 4 out of 5
Local Facilities: 3 out of 5
Natural Beauty: 4 out of 5
Tranquility: 3 out of 5

Total Score: 14 out of 20

Thong Nai Pan Yai has a long white sand beach which gently slopes down into the sea making it excellent for swimming. Thong Nai Pan Yai is a lively village cut off from the busier South and West of the Island by a 15km drive over a mountain in the jungle. The drive is an experience in itself.

Thong Nai Pan Yai has much more night life than most of the other really beautiful beaches on the Island. The beach restaurants are really good. We particularly recommend the excellent restaurant at 3 Star Resort Havana which serves Thai food, BBQ and the best Indian food on the Island. For late night drinking try either the Flip-Flop bar or Yai Bar: both are right on the beach front.

There is a really wide range of accommodation in Thong Nai Pan Yai. It’s a lot cheaper than neighbouring 5 Star Thong Nai Pan Noi – you can walk there in 10 minutes anyway and enjoy the beach, which is public. The quality goes from basic bungalows at resorts like Dreamland and Pen’s to fantastic luxury beach houses at Candle Hut. Thong Nai Pan Yai tends to appeal to a wide range of different types of travelers because of the variety of accommodation, which is matched by the variety of food options. Everything from super cheap Thai food at Pa Tong’s restaurant to authentic Italian cooking at the Living Room is available in Thong Nai Pan Yai.

Mid-Range Hotel: Havana Resort from 1,750 THB
Budget Hotel: Starlight Resort from 500 THB

#4 Than Sadet

Than Sadet

Location: North East

Swimming: 4 out of 5
Local Facilities: 1 out of 5
Natural Beauty: 4 out of 5
Tranquility: 5 out of 5

Total Score: 14 out of 20

Than Sadet is a real classic on the traveller’s circuit. It is a perfect beach; laid back but not many facilities (no mobile phone coverage) and hard to get to. To stay at Than Sadet is to step back 20 years in time. Some people love it. To get there you need to either take a taxi boat from Haad Rin pier or one of the 4×4 taxis waiting at the main ferry pier. The trip by car should cost you a few hundred Baht in a shared taxi or 1,000 to 1,500 THB for the whole car depending on the time of year.

Than Sadet beach is set within a national park which surrounds a 4km long run of waterfalls. This is a famous site for Thai people as it has been visited by no fewer than 3 of the Kings of Thailand. They all carved their names in rocks at the side of the main waterfall near the beach. More active visitors will enjoy trekking up the entire length of the waterfall, which has a natural rock pool along the way where you can swim.

There are only a handful of businesses at Than Sadet. The best restaurant and accommodation is provided by Mai Pen Rai Bungalows. They have been there for around 20 years and one of the owners is French, which is reflected in the surprisingly good food on offer. Don’t expect much nightlife, although you are bound to meet some laid back travellers to talk to. This is a friendly place.

Budget Hotel: Mai Pen Rai Bungalows from 380 THB

#5 Haad Yao

Haad Yao

Location: North West

Swimming: 3 out of 5
Local Facilities: 3 out of 5
Natural Beauty: 3 out of 5
Tranquility: 3 out of 5

Total Score: 12 out of 20

Haad Yao is the premier destination on the West Coast. The beach is long, clean and good for swimming. There are also lots of resorts, bars and restaurants. It is also a short and easy journey to the main town of Thongsala. If you stay here you have a really good range of options for sightseeing, eating out, and going to bars and parties.

Haad Yao village is stretched out along a 1km or so of road. There some good restaurants like Felini and Crave, and really good bars like Rasta Home, Apple Bar and Chok Dee. A lot of long stay visitors are attracted to Haad Yao and there is a year round ex-pat community in this area. If you fancy getting to know people try the excellent Masons Arms down the road towards Thong Sala. It’s a recreation English pub serving pints and English style pub grub including great English breakfasts.

There are loads of hotels and bungalow resorts in the area from a mere 475 THB a night at Sandy Bay Bungalows up to 3 Star accommodation at Haad Yao Villa. There is something to suit everyone.

Mid-Range Hotel: Baan Haad Yao from 800 THB
Budget Hotel: Sandy Bay Bungalows from 475 THB

#6 Chaloklum

Chaloklum

Location: North

Swimming: 3 out of 5
Local Facilities: 3 out of 5
Natural Beauty: 3 out of 5
Tranquility: 3 out of 5

Total Score: 12 out of 20

Chaloklum is essentially a fishing village and port with some tourist hotels. If you want to experience authentic small town Southern Thai life then this is the place for you.

The beach is clean and good for swimming, although bear in mind this is a working fishing port and there are plenty of boats bringing in the fresh catch daily. The best spot for swimming is west of the pier on the sandbank known as Malibu Beach.

In the village there is a cluster of good fish restaurants capitalizing on the fishing heritage of the area. This is a mini version of Hua Hin. The rears of the restaurants at Chaloklum’s Seafood Village stretch out over the beach on small wooden piers.

Chaloklum is also an activity centre with several PADI 5 Star dive centres, elephant trekking, archery and gyms. It is also close to the hill top Chinese Temple and the excellent snorkeling at Koh Ma and Mae Haad Beach. This makes Chaloklum great for families looking for things to do close by.

Mid-Range Hotel: Chaloklum Bay Resort from 1,500 THB
Budget Hotel: Viva on the Beach from 700 THB

#7 Haad Rin Nok

Haad Rin Nok

Location: South East

Swimming: 3 out of 5
Local Facilities: 4 out of 5
Natural Beauty: 3 out of 5
Tranquility: 1 out of 5

Total Score: 11 out of 20

Haad Rin Nok is where they hold the Full Moon Party. This is what the beach is best known for. However, long before the party first started it was the most popular beach on the Island. It’s set within a beautiful bay surrounded by forested hills. Haad Rin Nok is great for swimming and generally pretty clean when the party is not on.

The town, Haad Rin, has become large and built up on the back of the party. Haad Rin can cater for up to 30,000 people on party nights. It scores badly on the tranquility scale but there isn’t any reason to want to stay here other than for the party.

However, for people who like everything nearby Haad Rin Nok is hard to beat. There is every kind of food you can imagine from Indian food at Om Ganesh to Israeli food at Chaba House. The nightlife is the best on the Island. Haad Rin has the Island’s only proper indoor nightclub, Club 9, and lots of live music venues such as Same Same Bar and Restaurant.

Haad Rin has lots of good accommodation as well. Outside of the week before and after the Full Moon Party hotels and resorts really drop their prices and you can get some very good deals. For those looking for rock bottom prices there are numerous hostels in Haad Rin that offer bed and locker style deals starting at 200 Thai Baht a night

It should be mentioned that there are two beaches in Haad Rin. The biggest a d best is Haad Rin Nok. This is the longer sunrise beach and much better than the smaller sunset beach or Haad Rin Nai which is where the ferry pier is located.

Mid-Range Hotel: Sunrise Resort from 790 THB

#8 Haad Salad

Haad Salad

Location: North West

Swimming: 2 out of 5
Local Facilities: 2 out of 5
Natural Beauty: 3 out of 5
Tranquility: 3 out of 5

Total Score: 10 out of 20

Haad Salad means ‘pirates bay’ in Thai. It’s a tucked away beach and you see why smugglers used to hide out here. Haad Salad is quieter than neighbouring Haad Yao and more family oriented. Haad Salad has a small village with a few shops, bars and restaurants. The beachfront has mostly good quality large resorts like the highly recommended Salad Beach Resort, which is probably the most popular family resort on Koh Phangan.

There is a coral reef just off the coast that is a popular place to go snorkeling. For those who want to learn how to dive and for those qualified divers who want to explore the Gulf of Thailand’s best dive sites there are three dive shops – Pirate Divers, Blue Horizon Divers and The Dive Inn.

There are a couple are independent restaurants, Jang’s Kitchen and Jay Jay pizza, and lots of resorts with sea view restaurants such as the excellent Salad Hut.

What makes Haad Salad popular is the good accommodation, the value for money, accessibility and the family atmosphere.

Mid-Range Hotel: Salad Hut from 1,200 THB
Budget Hotel: Smile Beach from 300 THB

#9 Sri Thanu

Srithanu

Location: North West

Swimming: 2 out of 5
Local Facilities: 2 out of 5
Natural Beauty: 3 out of 5
Tranquility: 3 out of 5

Total Score: 10 out of 20

Sri Thanu is not so much a beach, although it has one; its main draw is the forested peninsula with a cluster of independent resorts. It has great sea views and a really laid backpacker friendly village atmosphere. Things move slowly here.

This low key destination is very close to both Haad Yao and Thong Sala and has some really cool bar venues like Amsterdam Bar and The Jam. The latter is Koh Phangan’s top live music venue. Sri Thanu is a great place to stay if you want to experience something of traditional island culture and you want to escape the crowds. It is also a good place to spot some of the wildlife of Koh Phangan.

Mid-Range Hotel: Loyfa Natural Resort from 640 THB
Budget Hotel: Seethanu Bungalows from 380 THB

#10 Baan Tai

Bantai

Location: South

Swimming: 1 out of 5
Local Facilities: 5 out of 5
Natural Beauty: 2 out of 5
Tranquility: 2 out of 5

Total Score: 10 out of 20

Baan Tai is the place to stay if you want to be near the best nightlife. You are close to the main town, Thong Sala, you are close to Haad Rin where the Full Moon Party happens, you are close to other parties such as the Half Moon Party, and the Baan Tai road is an ‘entertainment zone’ in its own right.

The food options around Baan Tai are the best on Koh Phangan. Nearby Thong Sala has a food market which has the best street food on the Island. Bantai road itself has lots of inexpensive to mid-priced restaurants. For 24 hour fast food and beer go to the Food Factory. There are three all-you-can-eat hot pan restaurants as well as several noodle shops and small restaurants serving curry and rice dishes. A kebab shop and two excellent fish restaurants: Fish at Thips and the popular Fisherman’s Restaurant and Bar are located in Baan Tai. These two fish restaurants are considered by many to be the best restaurants on the Island.

The range of accommodation in Baan Tai is just as big. The best luxurious accommodation is the 5 Star Chantaramas Resort. However, most of the accommodation is mid-range to budget bungalows. For affordable and good quality accommodation you can’t go wrong at Milky Bay Resort, and the slightly cheaper sister resort Lime N Soda. For something out of the ordinary you might try the famous beachfront tree house at Charm Beach Resort. When UK Princess Eugenie came to Koh Phangan for the Full Moon Party in 2008 she stayed at the lovely and inexpensive Bantai resort Morning Star – This is literally a ‘resort fit for a Princess’!!!

Luxury Hotel: Chantaramas from 2,500 THB
Mid-Range Hotel: Hansa Resort from 1,500 THB
Budget Hotel: A1 Koh Phangan Guest House and Hostel from 340 THB